|R i t a M e s q u i t a s B i o g r a p h y
After finishing this study, I went to the U.S. to get a Ph.D. degree in Ecology at the University of Georgia, in Athens. I really loved my life in Athens. With four other friends, we put together a music band called Pau Brasil, the tree after which Brazil (the country) is named. It was really fun to play and sing, and it certainly helped a lot to cut down the stress of writing a dissertation on carbon cycling. By the way, that was my dissertation topic: the carbon cycle of a secondary forest.
Ive spent the last six years working on degraded, abandoned, second-growth vegetation around Manaus. Maybe my entrepreneurial side really believes we can still find some uses for the abandoned lands that have resulted from unsustainable land uses and inappropriate development schemes. But more likely, my day- dreaming poetic side would hate to see the forest I like so much, a beautiful and complex forest, converted into simple, monoculture pastures. So, I study alternative ways to use deforested land and keep people longer on the lands theyve cut down. That way, maybe less forest will be cleared and more will be protected.
These days I also spend a lot of time training people, such as students from southern Brazil and other Amazonian countries, who come here to learn about the ecology of the Amazon forest. Im now planning a course for decision makers, mostly politicians and government employees from Amazonian states within Brazil. But I have no doubts that we all are, in one way or another decision makers. Ive made the decision to live and work in the Amazon as long as I can.
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